Shaftesbury town centre will be the place for seasonal shopping and festive fayre on Sunday. Some shops are opening especially, to coincide with the large Christmas market.
“We are just a couple short of 100 stalls on Sunday,” explained Steve Dauwalder of the Anonymous Travelling Market. He’s managing Sunday’s event for the Shaftesbury and District Chamber of Commerce.
Steve is promising an impressive stretch of stalls running almost the entire length of the High Street. “From the Commons all the way down to the corner of Angel Lane, the High Street will be pretty full,” said Steve.
And he says you might not want to have a big Sunday breakfast before you head out to the market. “There will be 25 food stalls. Five of those are food to eat there and the others are food to take home. Some of it will keep until Christmas and some stalls are offering samples to make things a little more interesting.”
Steve says the food offer will be familiar. “Very broadly, it’s British. There’s quite a lot of focus on local. There will be locally made cheeses, sausages and pies. We have a wet fish stall, a shellfish stall and an organic veg stall,” he said.
As you might expect at this time of the year, Steve says that there are plenty of present purchasing opportunities. “There are quite a lot of quirky gift stalls. An interesting one is Colin’s Copper Stuff. He is based just outside Shaftesbury. He recycles copper hot water tanks and turns them into lampshades, lamps and various copper implements. He is quite a clever guy.”
Steve says that there has been quite a lot of interest in Colin’s creations at previous Shaftesbury markets. “We also have a couple of stalls that make wooden chopping boards and ornaments and we’ve also got a guy selling winter plants,” added Steve.
One of the town centre’s recent trading success stories is the plastic free shop, Coconut and Cotton. It is just over a year since Lucy Barfoot opened to customers. Her recently extended business will be open on Sunday and Lucy says that there’ll be a range of activities going on in Swans Yard, where her shop is located.
“In the yard, we’re going to have lots of stalls for people who are coming from further afield, offering handmade goods and crafts. It’ll be really good to see what we have on offer,” she said.
Lucy says there’s a move to make Swans Yard more of a focal point for activities during town events like the Christmas market. “We are slightly separate to the High Street. We have this really great space where we can put marquees. We know there are problems with the narrow streets and places to walk. Here it is calm and you can chill out. There are places to sit and you can have a coffee. There is a slower pace of life in the yard, so it’s a nice place to come and shop.”
Currently, the scaffolding required during the renovation of the former Edinburgh Woollen Mill is presenting a bit of a challenge for Lucy. She is concerned that first-time visitors might not realise that are places to visit behind the building work. “It’s slightly gutting that it’s staying up until Christmas, but we have managed to put up loads of lights in the yard. It should draw people inside,” she said.
Lucy added that bunting and vintage clothes recycling expert Georgie Faulkner-Bryant will be making stockings from reused fabrics at the entrance to Swans Yard. Lucy says these unique pieces are, ‘eye-catching’.
At 1pm, the traditional outdoor nativity play will be performed outside the Town Hall. With so much going on Steve reckons there will be a good buzz in the High Street. “Last year we got an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people coming along to the event. We have made special arrangements for the traders to park on the edge of the town, so they won’t be taking up car parking spaces in the side streets and the car parks.”
Vice Chairman of Shaftesbury Chamber of Commerce, David Perry, says that a proportion of the proceeds from the market are retained by the Chamber. That money is used to support their initiatives and projects which aim to promote the town.
Although Sunday’s market officially opens at 10am, Steve reckons early birds might be able to start browsing and buying before then. “Most of the traders will be set up by nine, so you can get down there then,” he said.